January 19, 2010

Happy Hour

This week, with the end of the uncharacteristically long spell of cold (cold) weather came the beginning of something new and unexpected: contact. It's as if, by surviving one of the coldest winters on record for this little patch of dirt, I have gone through some kind of right of locals' passage. I now exist. Though I am still, without a doubt, a come-here, the from-heres have starting saying hello in a more substantial way than hesitantly waving from their cars.

It all began with what seemed like a perfectly innocent phone call one Saturday morning. My neighbor's wife called to ask me over for a drink that evening, so she and her husband could "get to know me a little better." I said yes, of course, friendly young woman that I am, but I did have some anxiety. It has been so long since I have really had to hold a conversation with anyone who I haven't known for years or am a blood relation of that I feared I may have forgotten how to do it. How does one small talk, again? At 5 PM I idly brushed my hair and ambled across the driveway to the neighbor's house, giggling slightly as I hopped the tiny fence separating our yards. Then, of course, I knocked on the wrong door (I have such problems with anything relating to doors--opening doors, unlocking doors, properly closing doors, locating doors, etc.). This resulted in a mild kerfuffel, but I was not to be undone. I had spent most of the afternoon mentally prepping small-talk-conversation-points; I was armed and ready.

What ensued was one of the strangest reintroductions to humanity I have experienced. I don't know if I am overreacting. It could be that after six months of near total isolation people just seem bizarre. But they were a little bizarre. The wife got extremely drunk by the time I made my exit, so much so that she had a great deal of trouble walking me to the door (a different door than either previous door, I might add). The husband seemed only interested in discussing the fine points of his local artwork collection, comprised mostly of wooden models of sandpipers and a tiny replica of a light house ("The frequency of this lighthouse light is an exact replica of the frequency of New Point Comfort light's light!). They had a cat the size of a small dog (Sinbad) who constantly licked my feet, probably because he sensed my shoes were brand new and the apples of my eye. At one point, tipsy wife explained to me the plans for the house once her husband died while he, the husband, stared adoringly at his tiny lighthouse. She says that they've been discussing it a lot lately. When I said I was a writer she asked, "Do you write mysteries or romance novels?" When I said, no, not really no, she stared at me like she didn't understand. "What else could she possibly write?" They were nice enough people, and surely gracious in having me, their much younger semi-unfriendly new neighbor, over for a drink. But, man. What an evening.

This was the first of my encounters this week, and by far the strangest. Since then I have met another neighbor from further up the road. She says that she knows some young people I might like, and I'm planning on making contact with one girl sometime this week. Talking to my neighbor I had to squelch the urge to grill her with what I think are very important questions about these so-called young people. Did they in any way support Sarah Palin during the last election or now? Do they have a confederate flag on or around their person or personal items? Would you describe them as progressive? Do they watch Fox News? I refrained from asking these questions, and am hopeful that I will not regret my restraint when I do meet one or any of these young Virginians. Who knows, maybe I will happen upon a random liberal enclave of young atheist Democrats in Mathews County. We can discuss gay marriage rights and the merits of independent cinema when I have them over for evening drinks.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite author, Peter DeVries, in the voice of one of his fictional narrators, described planned small talk as "prepartee." Clever guy he was. Over time I will tell you more about him; you may find some solace there eventually.